It’s the start of a conversation, and as they say in some languages: a good start is half the work. Learn how to say these Chinese greetings. We list 11 Chinese greetings here, ranging from casual to formal.
Chinese greeting #1: Hello there
In Chinese: 你好Nǐ hǎo
Undoubtedly the two most well-known Chinese words abroad: 你(you) and 好(good), together meaning just something like “Hello”. Many Chinese teachers on YouTube, or blogs, make you believe this greeting is not OK to use in China, but it’s fine, especially to strangers. Walk into a store and yell: “你好，有人吗?” (Hello, anyone inside?).
To older people you don’t know, you can replace 你Nǐ with 您Nín：您好. To people you know, you can replace 你 with their name or nickname:
- 老板好 (Hello boss!)
- 王进好 (Hello Wang Jin)
- 周经理好 (Hello Manager Zhou)
- 大家好 (Hello everyone)
- 王老师好 （Hello Teacher Wang）
Learn how to say this Chinese greeting with GoEast Mandarin’s Maria:
Chinese greeting #2: Did you eat?
In Chinese: 你吃了吗?Nǐ chīle ma?
Variants: 早饭吃了吗？/ 午饭吃了吗？/ 吃过晚饭了吗？
You don’t literally need to answer this Chinese greeting with a detailed list of your breakfast or lunch — just a 对 (Yeah) is fine, for example:
Person A: Ey! 你吃了吗？Did you eat?
Person B: 对！你怎么样？Yeah. How are you?
Person A: 我还好！走吧！I’m alright! Let’s go!
Chinese greeting #3: Good morning
In Chinese: 早上好! Zǎoshang hǎo!
This Chinese greeting just means ‘Good morning’ (早上好) or just ‘Morning!’ (早!), and works exactly like you would expect a ‘good morning’ to work. In addition to greeting good morning, there’s, while 早上好 is the most common one.
Good afternoon: 下午好 or 午安
Good evening: 傍晚好
Good night: 晚上好
Chinese greeting #4: Where are you going?
In Chinese: 你去哪儿?Nǐ qù nǎ’er?
Like ‘Did you eat?’, you don’t literally need to answer this. But it does perhaps show the importance of food in Chinese culture
Person A: 你去哪儿？Where are you going?
Person B: 回家，你姐怎么样？Home. How’s your sister?
Person A: 她最近不错，她现在旅游。Good, she’s on holidays now.
Chinese greeting #5: Hey
In Chinese: 喂Wèi
One meaning of 喂 is to feed an animal, but here it just means ‘Hey’ and it’s totally unrelated. One important detail about this Chinese greeting: 喂 is only used for picking up the phone! Additionally, it can be: 喂你好 (Hey, you good?)
Chinese greeting #6: Long time no see
In Chinese: 好久不见Hǎojiǔ bùjiàn
Fun fact: Long time no see is actually a literal translation from Chinese. In English, this “Long time no see” makes no sense, but it was brought into the English language from travellers in China.
Chinese greeting #7: How have you been lately?
In Chinese: 你最近怎么样？Nǐ zuìjìn zěnme yàng?
This Chinese greeting works quite like in English, and there are variations such as:
- What have you been doing lately? 你最近干嘛？
- Where have you been lately? 你最近在哪儿？
- What has been keeping you busy lately? 你最近在忙什么？
Chinese greeting #8: What are you doing?
In Chinese: 啊，在干嘛? Zài gàn má?
Ey! What’s up!? Whatya doing?! That’s kinda this Chinese greeting. It’s a very colloqual expression
Chinese greeting #9: Hello
In Chinese: 哈罗Hā luō
This Chinese greeting takes inspiration from the English “Hello” and copies it phonetically. Especially popular among young Chinese in big cities.
Chinese greeting #10: May all your wishes come true
In Chinese: 万事如意Wànshì rúyì
Commonness: During Chinese New Year
This one (like #11) is a Chinese new year greeting, To hope all things will make you satisfied. There’s actually a video about this greeting here:
Chinese greeting #11: May you be happy and prosperous
In Chinese: 恭喜发财Gōngxǐ fācái
Commonness: During Chinese New Year
Although this Chinese greeting talks about happy and prosperous, actually it means to say “I hope you get a lot of money in the new year”. But also this is kinda-tongue-in-cheek in China.